PEORIA, Ill. (WMBD/WYZZ) — Pat Ryan was back in his element Saturday night.

He was with former players and coaches being inducted into the Greater Peoria Sports Hall of Fame along with four of his state runner-up Metamora football teams in the 1990’s.

“Success is important with wins but when you have get-togethers like this, that’s the most important thing,” said Ryan. “When you’re going through it year-to-year, you don’t have time to reflect because you have to get ready for next year.”

After a 30-year coaching career at Metamora High School, Ryan retired in 2020. Then returned to football on the staff at the University of Illinois where he serves as the director of Illinois High School relations.

It’s a job he loves.

“I don’t know what’s going on at other Power 5 schools,” said Ryan. “I just know when I walk into that building, when I’m around players, coaches, and our support staff, it feels right. It just feels right.”

It was a walk down memory lane for Ryan this weekend. But perhaps more importantly, the reunion with former players gave some of them an opportunity to tell their coach just how much of an impact he made on their lives.

“I had a young man that said he had a very difficult time in his life,” Ryan said. “He hit a rough patch in his life and basically shared with me that I had an impact on keeping him going. There’s nothing bigger than that. It meant a great deal to me”